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					     Pre-K Counts in Pennsylvania for Youngsters’
               Early School Success:

Authentic Outcomes for an Innovative Prevention and Promotion Initiative




  Research Results of SPECS for Pre–K Counts:
  An Independent Authentic Program Evaluation
        Research Initiative (2005-2009)


                 2009 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
HOW IT STARTED
                                                                           • School District-Community Early Childhood
Overview: Pre-K Counts in Pennsylvania:                                      Program Partnerships
PKC--A State-Wide “Community” Success Story                                • Integration of the Pre-K “System”: Head Start,
Many young children start kindergarten and first grade with big              Early Intervention, and Child Care
smiles and high hopes. Yet, too many other children see those              • Collaborative School-Community Leadership
hopes dim as they slip farther beyond their classmates. The social         • Keystone Stars Program Quality Standards
costs—in human and financial terms—seem insurmountable.
                                                                           • Ongoing Mentoring to Improve Quality of Teaching
It doesn’t have to be that way. Pre-K Counts in Pennsylvania,                and Care
a unique, public-private collaboration between philanthropies,
                                                                           • Creative Parent Participation Options
state government, and innovative school district-community
partnerships across 21 school districts is proving what national           • Collaborative Agreements with Human Service Agencies
research has shown elsewhere: early learning in quality preschool          • Use of the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards
settings is the key to helping all children succeed—now and in               (PAELS) as Curricular Benchmarks for Early School Success
the future.                                                                • Ongoing Formative Program Evaluation and Feedback
This executive summary highlights the major initial outcomes                 to Focus Instruction and Communication
of a 3-year research study of over 10,000 children and their             PKC was also based upon the scientific knowledge that children of
programs across the first 21 school district-community                   poverty experience progressive declines in their developmental
partnerships funded under the public-private consortium of               rate when they are not afforded the benefits of quality early
Pre-K Counts between 2005 and 2008. Where fully implemented              learning experiences which occur in preschool; this lack of critical
as intended, the PKC model shows impressive and promising                early experience occurs at a particularly sensitive period in the
results. Perhaps, most importantly, PKC children are ready to            growth of their brain-behavior interconnections. Because of these
succeed in kindergarten and beyond.                                      deprivations, at the age for kindergarten and first grade, their
                                                                         deficits in early learning place them 1.5 years behind their more
What Is Pre-K Counts in Pennsylvania?                                    advantaged peers (Figure 1)
Pre-K Counts has been a unique public-private partnership
among philanthropies and state government departments                    Who Are the Children, Families, and Programs in Pre-K Counts?
through the Office of Child Development and Early Learning
                                                                           • 21 PKC school-community partnerships across
(OCDEL), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, begun in 2004.
                                                                             Pennsylvania (see last page list)
Pre-K Counts sought to establish a consortium of business, cor-            • 10,002 children, ages 3-6 years; average age = 4.3 years
porate, foundation, school, and community leaders to stimulate
the development of an early care and education network which               •                       Ethnic representation: Caucasians, African-Americans,
would expand quality options; infuse education into child care                                     Hispanics, Asians, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native,
                                                                                                   American Indian, and Multi-ethnic categories
routines; set standards for quality, professional development,
and early learning; and serve as a catalyst to create and unify a          • 1113 teachers in 489 classrooms across PA
“system” for prevention and care for all young children.

What Elements Distinguish a Pre-K Counts Program?                        Figure 1: Graph of Research-based
                                                                         Developmental Declines for High-risk
Ramey and Ramey (1998) outlined the common factors in                                                                                           u
successful and effective early childhood intervention program            Children Not In Preschool
research initiatives in the US over the past 30 years.
                                                                                                   130
Pre-K Counts applied these evidence-based factors as guides
in their funding proposal requirements to the grantees.                                            120
                                                                           Mean Normative Scores




                                                                                                   110

                                                                                                   100
                                                                                                   100

                                                                                                   9
                                                                                                   90

                                                                                                   8
                                                                                                   80

                                                                                                   70

                                                                                                   60

                                                                                                   50
                                                                                                         1       2       3             4    5       6
                                                                                                                             Age In Years




                                                                     2
                                                                                                                    2009 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


WHAT WE DID

How Do the SPECS Authentic Program Evaluation
Research Methods Work in Pre-K Counts?
SPECS: Scaling Progress in Early Childhood Settings is a
core program of the Early Childhood Partnerships program
(www.earlychildhoodpartnerships.org) of the University of
Pittsburgh and affiliated with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
SPECS represents a field-validated and evidence-based
approach in longitudinal studies over 15 years for conducting
program evaluation research in community-based early
childhood intervention classrooms, settings, and routines which
is developmentally-appropriate for young children. SPECS uses             What Were the Indicators for Children’s Success
an Authentic Assessment approach (Bagnato, 2002; 2007) which
is required by national professional organizations for use in the         in Pre-K Counts?
field and is part of quality professional standards by the National
Association for the Education of Young Children—NAEYC; and                  •   Acquisition of essential early school success competen-
the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for                       cies in the PA Early Learning Standards (PAELS)
Exceptional Children.                                                       •   Individual performances during instructional
                                                                                engagement in PKC outpace maturational expectancies.
Within Pre-K Counts, SPECS methods consisted of :                           •   Longer engagement in program = better outcomes
  •    Standardized observations of ongoing child behavior                  •   Higher quality programs produce better outcomes than
       in everyday routines rather than “table-top” testing”                    lower quality programs
  •    Reliable and valid observations by teachers and other                •   PKC achievement indices match or exceed national
       caregivers                                                               research indices
   •   Teacher training for reliable and valid observations                 •   Attainment of educationally important “functional”
   • Linkage of assessment and instruction through teacher                      benchmarks of measurable progress (e.g., reductions
      feedback for individual learning plans                                    special education placements; movement from delay
   • Alignment of curricular content, state and federal                         to non-delay classifications; increases in social skills with
     standards, & expected outcomes                                             reductions in challenging social behaviors; >80% attain
                                                                                PAELS; exceeding national normative and reference
   •   Individual changes in each child’s developmental                         indicators)
       progress profile
                                                                            •   Mentoring improves program quality
   •   Longitudinal, repeated measures, multivariate regresion
       design to examine the interrelationship among                        •   Innovative school-community “partnership elements” had
       mentoring, partnership elements, program quality and                     differential outcomes.
       instruction, time-in-intervention, and children’s early
       school success.                                                    WHAT WE FOUND
What Were the “Core” Mandates & Research Questions                        OUTCOME 1: High-Risk Preschool Children Beat the Odds and
Posed by Stakeholders for SPECS ?                                         Succeeded in PKC by Gaining Critical Early Learning Competencies.
   •   No exclusion of vulnerable preschoolers from PKC for
       research purposes—ethical design                                   Did vulnerable 3-year old children benefit
                                                                          from PKC programs?
   •   Is participation in Pre-K Counts associated with children’s
       gains in important functional competencies to improve                •   Nearly 2000 3-year olds showed strong growth during
        their early school success? (Did it work?)                              their first year of PKC--a sensitive developmental period
   •   What programmatic elements of Pre-K Counts are                           when they were most vulnerable for continuing
       associated with children’s success? (Why did it work?)                   developmental problems.
                                                                            •   At-risk or delayed 3-year olds at entry improved toward
                                                                                typical rates of development at exit
                                                                            •   All ethnic groups made gains, especially in spoken
                                                                                language, pre-reading, numbers, classroom behavior, and
                                                                                daily living skills.
                                                                            •   3-year olds with the longest PKC participation--until
                                                                                transition to kindergarten—showed the strongest gains
                                                                                in early learning skills.




                                                                      3
How much did children who were at-risk or delayed                     Figure 2: Risk Status at Entry to PKC
in development benefit from PKC?

  • Nearly 20% more children are performing in the typical
    range of functioning after participating in PKC
    (Figures 2 & 3)
  • Greater than 2 of every 3 children with developmental
                                                                                   21%
    delays attained a low average to average level of
    performance after participating in PKC.
  • Children at-risk and with developmental delays and                        12%                     67%
    serious problems in social and self-control behaviors at
    entry showed significant gains in acquiring age-expected
                                                                                                                            TYPICAL
    skills for kindergarten at exit.
                                                                                                                            AT-RISK

How well did all preschool children benefit from PKC?                                                                       DELAYED


  • 10,000 high-risk and vulnerable preschool children
    showed significant gains in development and early                 Figure 3: Risk Status at Exit (K-Transition) from PKC
    learning skills in spoken language, reading, writing, math,
    classroom behavior, and daily living skills toward average
    (age-expected) and above average performance
  •   Actual developmental progress rates after participation                     8%
      in PKC exceeded childrens’ expected maturational rates
      before participation in PKC.                                          6%

  •   Developmental progress rates in some skill areas
      (spoken language, reading, and daily living skills)
      exceeded the statistical indices established in national
      early childhood intervention studies.
  • Preschoolers with longest PKC participation--until                                           86%
    transition to kindergarten—showed the strongest gains                                                                 TYPICAL
    in early learning skills.
                                                                                                                           AT-RISK

                                                                                                                          DELAYED


OUTCOME 2: Improved Program Quality Promoted Children’s
Early School Success
                                                                      Figure 4: Comparative Child Outcomes for Low
How much time engaged in a PKC program did it take                    (1–2 Stars) vs High (3–4 Stars) Quality PKC Programs
for vulnerable children to show functional progress?
                                                                      110
  •   Children participated in PKC for varying lengths of time
      (4-24 months).
  •   Initial functional progress was achieved only after the         105

       average child spent at least 6.4 months in PKC
                                                                      100
Did program quality nurture the success of PKC children?
                                                                      95
  •   PKC programs made significant improvements in their
      classroom quality.
                                                                      90
  •   Program quality was partly responsible for children’s
      reading, writing, and math competencies at K-transition
  •   Children in high quality programs gained significantly                Language   Reading     Math        Behavior      Living   Overall
                                                                                                               Daily         Skills
      more than children in low quality programs (Figure 4)
                                                                                                 Low Quality      High Quality




                                                                  4
                                                                                                                                                    2009 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY




                                                                                  Figure 5: PKC Child Reading and Math Competencies
                                                                                  vs. National Norm Group at K-Transition Age


                                                                                       30.0




                                                                                       22.5




                                                                                       15.0
OUTCOME 3: Ongoing Mentoring Improved Teaching
and Program Quality                                                                    7.5
  •   Variety of mentoring strategies used by coaches was
      partly responsible for improvements in teaching quality
      which improved children’s language and math                                      0
      competencies at K-transition                                                            PKC at Transition          National         PKC at Transition        National
                                                                                                  Reading                 Norms                Math                 Norms

                                                                                                           4 years old
OUTCOME 4: Children in PKC Programs Beat Local                                                                                      4.5 years old        5 years old



and National Norms to Achieve Success at
                                                                                  Figure 6: Historical School District Special Education
Kindergarten Transition                                                           Placement Rate vs. PKC Rate at K-Transition
Are PKC children “ready” for kindergarten?
                                                                                                       18.0%

  • Nearly 7000 high-risk PKC children exceeded expected                                                                  18.0%
    competencies in spoken language, math, writing, and
    classroom behavior competency at transition and                                                    13.5%
    entry into kindergarten.
  •   Overall, 80% of PKC children met critical early school
      success competencies in the Pennsylvania Early Learning                                          9.0%
      Standards (PAELS) at transition to kindergarten (Table 1).
  •   The gains of 5-year old PKC children exceeded the
                                                                                                       4.5%
      kindergarten transition skills of age peers on a nationally
      standardized measure of early learning in spoken
      language, reading, math, classroom behavior, and daily                                                                                         2.40%
      living skills (Figures 5).                                                                       0%

  •   PKC children dramatically reduced the historical
                                                                                                                    School District Special             PKC Projected Rate
      special education placement rates in their school                                                             Education Rate
      districts (Figure 6).



      Speci c Competency                                                                      % Attained
      Demonstrate initiative and curiosity                                                            85
      Develop and expand listening and understanding skills                                           80
      Communicate ideas, experiences and feeling for a varety of purposes                             87
                                                                                                      78
      Comprehend information from written and oral stories and texts
                                                                                                                                    u
      Develop increasing understanding of letter knowledge                                            76
                                                                                                                               Table 1: Critical PAELS
      Learn about numbers, numerical representation, and simple numerical operations                  73                       Competencies Attained by
      Develop self-regulation                                                                         81                       PKC Children




                                                                              5
                                                                                      insight
  collaboration



support                                                                 best.practices


                 innovative
             professional
                                                                       WHAT IT MEANS
OUTCOME 5: Innovative School-Community Partnership                     Overarching Conclusions Can Be Drawn from
Models Nurtured Child and Program Success                              the Results of PKC
  •   Specific partnership elements (e.g., focus on quality)             •   Young high-risk children showed accelerated early
      supported PKC program’s capacity to foster children’s                  learning progress.
      early school success.
                                                                         •   Young children with delays and challenging behaviors
  •   Direct Instruction (DI) add-on to a Developmentally-                   improved equally.
      Appropriate (DAP) curriculum to reduce developmental
                                                                         •   Young children learned critical competencies for early
      delay and early school success in reading at 4KIDS in
                                                                             school success and beat local historical and national
      Braddock, Heritage Community Initiatives, Inc. affiliated
                                                                             norms.
      with the Woodland Hills School District PKC.
      (www.HeritageCommunityInitiatives.org)                             •   Vulnerable young children beat the odds and succeeded.
  •   Innovative HealthyCHILD developmental healthcare                   •   Individualized programs helped children to succeed.
       supports in collaboration with University of Pittsburgh/          •   Mentored programs improved quality and teaching
       Children’s Hospital to help teachers in Pittsburgh Public              which promoted child success.
       Schools PKC and Woodland Hills to build critical social
       and self – control skills for children through direct in-         •   Standards for children and professional practices served
       classroom mentoring.                                                  to focus and guide teaching and expected outcomes
                                                                             for teachers.
  •   Child care provider training and credential at high school
                                                                         •   School-community collaborations and leadership were
      graduation for students in the Tussey Mountain PKC
                                                                             often innovative, effective, and value-added.
  •   Tyrone School District PKC central “community campus”
       model for early care and education integrated in the
      setting with the primary grades
                                                                             Simply, Pre-K Counts
  •   Pittsburgh Public Schools fully inclusive and integrated
                                                                             in Pennsylvania works!
      ECE system with Pre-K, Head Start, and early intervention              Prevention works!

                                                                   6
t
                                                                                                                      2009 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    There Are “Lessons Learned” from PKC to Enhance
    Future Policies, Professional Practices, and Research
    in PA and the US.
      •   Ask “what about PKC works?” Stop asking “can PKC work?”              •   Maximize the participation of Early Head Start and Head
                                                                                   Start as the foundation for PKC in the future
      •   Ensure funding for future independent research to
          analyze the sustained success of PKC children into the               •   Apply and research the federally mandated “response-to-
          primary grades (K-5th).                                                  intervention” (RTI) framework into Pre-K to ensure
                                                                                   a graduated continuum of prevention-intervention
      •   Improve and validate the Keystone Stars process by                       supports which link regular and special education and
          implementing a uniform, evidence-based mentoring                         other human services
          model for coaches and teachers.
                                                                               •   Connect PKC to new federal education mandates
      •   Apply PKC research data to help prospective PKC
          programs make strategic decisions about their unique                 •   Re-evaluate to improve the Early Learning Network (ELN)
          program designs                                                          measurement and database system and its measures of
                                                                                   children and contexts
      •   Mandate that future PKC partnerships embrace all ECI
          community partner agencies in inclusive settings,                    •   Enhance the process, training, and reliability/validity of
          particularly for children with challenging behaviors and                 the Work Sampling System (WSS) for PKC purposes
          delayed development.


    WHO PARTICIPATED
    The SPECS team is privileged to work with remarkable people across Pennsylvania’s Pre-K Counts programs. The school-community
    partnerships showed creativity. Teachers, administrators, and parents inspired with their consent, devotion and willingness to participate
    in the program and the research. Children showed a joy and eagerness to learn. Business, corporate, foundation, and government lead-
    ers have our respect for their vision and their drive for high quality early care and education programs. Most of all, we are humbled to
    work, then and now, with individual school and community leaders in both urban and rural settings who have shown unwavering
    ingenuity, persistence, and commitment to their unique visions for PKC in their own communities. PKC and the quality of the SPECS
    research would have been impossible without the unique talents of these partners:


    Bellefonte Area School District                Harrisburg School District Early                School District of Lancaster
                                                   Childhood Program
    Elaine Cutler                                                                                  Donna Wennerholt
    Susan Seely                                    Debbie W. Reuvenny
                                                                                                   School District of Philadelphia
    Bethlehem Area School District                 Huntingdon Area School and
                                                                                                   David Silbermann
                                                   Mount Union School Districts
    Marilee Ostman                                                                                 Brook Sawyer and Pip Campbell
    Tricia Carrasco                                Mary Kay Justice
                                                                                                   Scranton School District
                                                   McKeesport Area School District
                                                                                                   Anne Salerno
    City of Erie School District                   Patricia J. Scales                              Elaine Errico
                                                   Cathy Lobaugh
    Patrick Conley and Kathryn Kwiatkowski                                                         Southern Tioga School District
    Colleen Maci                                   Morrisville Borough, Bristol Borough,
                                                                                                   Sam Rotella
                                                   and Bristol Township School Districts
    Derry Area School District                                                                     Tussey Mountain School District
                                                   Janmarie Brooks
    Donna Witherspoon                                                                              Kathy Lazor
                                                   New Kensington-Arnold School District
    Greenville Area School and Commodore                                                           Tyrone Area School District
    Perry School Districts                         Thomas J. Wilczek
                                                   Ruth Carson                                     Reneé Jamison
    Nancy Castor and Barbara Patton                                                                Melissa Russell
                                                   Pittsburgh Public Schools
    Harmony Area School District                                                                   Wilkinsburg Borough School District
                                                   Carol Barone-Martin
    Scott E. King                                                                                  Karen Payne
                                                   Amber Straub
    Grace Damiano                                                                                  Michelle Agatston and Marie Hayes
                                                   Pottstown School District
                                                                                                   Woodland Hills School District
                                                   Jeff Sparagana
                                                   Mary Rieck                                      Roslynne Wilson
                                                                                                   Cyndi McAleer, Cathryn Lehman, and Candace
                                                                                                   Hawthorne




                                                                         7
                                                                                            SPECS Team Members:
                                                                                            Suzanne Korkus, BS--Manager
                                                                                            Jennifer Salaway, Ph.D.—Manager
                                                                                            Candace Hawthorne, Ph.D.
                                                                                            Gina Oddi, MS
                                                                                            Antonio Fevola, Ph.D.
          Dr. Bagnato and his Early Childhood Partnerships team                             Kawa Shwaish, BS
          received the following distinguished research and service                         Hsiang Yeh-Ho, Ph.D.
                                                                                            Carol Whitacre, BS
          awards for the quality, impact, and value of their service                        Eileen McKeating-Esterle, MS
          and research work with community partners across                                  t Smith-Jones, Ph.D.
                                                                                            Cathryn Lehman, MS
                                                                                            Janell
          Pennsylvania and the tri-state region since 1994;                                 Margie Matesa, MS
          over 75 community partners provided the nomination                                Philippa Campbell, Ph.D.
                                                                                            Brook Sawyer, Ph.D.
          for these awards :
                                                                                            Hoi Suen, Ed.D
             2001 University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s                                     Distinguished Professor
             Distinguished Public Service Award                                             College of Education
                                                                                            Educational Psychology Program
             2008 Penn State University Alumni                                              Penn State
             Excellence in Education Award
                                                                                            Qiong Wu, M.S., (ABD)
                                                                                            Statistical Analyst
             2009 Official Appointment to the                                               Center on Population and Development Studies,
             Pennsylvania Early Learning Council                                            School of Public Health
             by Governor Rendell                                                            Harvard University




Sto-Rox East Liberty Highlands South Side Hill District Homewood Brad
Rankin Swissvale Hawkins Village Prospect Terrace Homestead Bracken
Tarentum Harrison Township Mckees Rocks Stow Township Larimer Ga
Heights St Clair Village Arlington Heights Wilkinsburgh Lower Hill Midd
       SPECS Research was funded by a grant (B5098)

              Terrace Aliquippa PI (2005-2009)
Addisonthe of Pittsburgh Foundation, Stephen J. Bagnato,Lincon-Lemington Highlands Upper Hill Sto-
       from
       Hospital
                 Heinz Endowments to Children’s

Liberty Highlands South Side Hill District Homewood Braddock Rankin
       Research Report Authors:
Hawkins Village Prospect Terrace Homestead Brackenridge Tarentum H
                                                                 In particular, SPECS extends much appreciation to Marge Petruska,

                                                                 Heinz Endowments for her vision, Garfield Heights St Cla
TownshipofMckees Rocks Stow Township Larimer creativityFamilies program of the
       STEPHEN J. BAGNATO, Ed.D., NCSP
       Professor Pediatrics & Psychology
                                                                 Senior Program Director, Children, Youth &
                                                                                                            over the years, and
                  Heights
ArlingtonSPECS for Pre-K CountsWilkinsburgh Lowercare and education.
       Director, Early Childhood Partnerships
       Director,
                                                                         Hill Middle Hill Addison Terrace A
                                                                 commitment to quality and rigor in both research and practice in
                                                                 early
Lincon-Lemington Highlands Upper Hill Sto-Rox East Liberty Highlands
       Senior District
Side Hill ResearchPh.D., NCSPHomewood Braddock Rankin Swissvale Hawkins Villag
       JEN SALAWAY,
                         Psychologist
                                                                 Early Childhood Partnerships
Terrace Homestead Brackenridge Tarentum Harrison Township Mckees
       Manager, SPECS for Pre-K Counts
                                                                 FORGING INNOVATIVE UNIVERSITY-COMMUNITY LINKAGES
                   Larimer Garfield Heights St CHILDREN &Village Arlington Heights W
Township Medicine and Education
       Schools of                                                FOR Clair PROFESSIONALS IN AUTHENTIC SETTINGS

          Hill Pittsburgh
LowerUniversity ofMiddle Hill Addison Terrace Aliquippa Lincon-Lemington High
       Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

                                                                 Visit www. Side Hill District Homewood
Hill Sto-Rox East Liberty Highlands South earlychildhoodpartnerships.org
       HOI SUEN, Ph.D.
                                                                 report and related Terrace Homestead
Rankin Swissvale Hawkins Village Prospectresearch reports or contact Dr. Stephen J. Bagnato Bracken
                                                                 to explore ECP core programs and to download the SPECS for PKC
       Distinguished University Professor

Tarentum Education Harrison Township Mckees Rocks Stow Township Larimer Ga
       Educational Psychology
       School of
                                                                 directly at bagnatos@pitt.edu

       Penn St Clair
Heights State University Village Arlington Heights Wilkinsburgh Lower Hill Midd
Addison Terrace Aliquippa Lincon-Lemington Highlands Upper Hill Sto-
          @ 2009 Early Childhood Partnerships, SPECS Evaluation Team, University of Pittsburgh                 Design by Third Planet Communications | www.333planet.com
Liberty Highlands South Side Hill District Homewood Braddock Rankin

				
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